Saturday, August 20, 2005

Catching up

Isn't this amazing? Hubby caught this close-up photo of this incredible spider during a raging storm last Sunday night. The web was enormous, and decently sheltered from the storm, yet by morning the whole thing was gone. I'm glad we noticed this splendid creature at the right time and thought to grab the camera. Spiders fascinate me. I could watch them for hours, from a safe distance of course. (This one looks like it could have delivered a nasty bite.) Every now and then I will find a big garden spider building its web, and I'll watch awhile, just to see the age-old architecture appear. So beautiful.

In my knitting news, I finally have a Finished Object to show! This is Meg Swansen's Spiral Yoke Sweater. The yarn is Nanney Kennedy's Seacolors. ( ). When I bought it at the NETA Spa weekend in February, I knew it wouldn't take me too long to decide what to do with it. With eight 200-yard skeins, I didn't have enough for a "me-sized" Aran extravanganza, so I chose this pattern instead. A bold move, since this is the first time that I have ever dared to make a really fitted sweater. (Being an ample lady, I tend to hide beneath sweaters that more resemble blankets than garments.) However, fear of running short kept me ever aware of yardage conservation, and -- surprise, surprise! -- I still have about 2-1/2 skeins left for accessories! I'm thinking a watchcap and/or scarf would be nice. Or maybe a pair of Barbara's "Wristers." Ahhh, possibilities!!!!

Working with this yarn was a delight in so many ways. The wool/mohair blend was so soft and luscious passing through my hands, plus it smelled nicely of the sea. (Nanney sun-dyes her yarns using seawater in the dyebath.) Countless times during the knitting process I lifted the whole piece of work to my nose and inhaled that delicious ocean scent. I was afraid that would go away with the first Eucalan bath, but not so! The wool smells even more oceany when wet, and now that the sweater is nearly dry, the scent still lingers. This warms my Piscean heart in more ways than I can count. There is such a powerful holiness in the ocean, but I am not able to get to the seaside as often as I would like. This sweater will keep me in touch with that feeling whenever I wear it. What a blessing!

I had to laugh after washing it, though. I did my usual Eucalan soak in the washing machine (sans agitation), then spun all the water out about a hour later. Took the garment out and admired it, then wondered what in heck was that dirty RING around the bottom of the washtub? Did any of it [GASP] land on my sweater???

I reached in to examine it, and lo and behold, it was SAND that had been spun out of the sweater! I guess the yarn must inevitably pick some up from its seawater dyebath.

Also this week, I attempted something I have never made before -- Fish Chowder! I had a nice basic recipe from the NETA group recipe file, but of course, as with knitting, in cooking I have a hard time sticking to the recipe as written. I made my own variation. Hickory-smoked bacon was my substitute for salt pork, and the potatoes were Yukon Golds. I added dried thyme and fresh-ground pepper to the broth. The second day, after re-heating the chowder base prior to serving, I added a pint of light cream, a bit of sea salt, a flour paste to thicken it slightly, and a generous glug of one of my Old Kitchen Standbys. (That's good ol' Carlo Rossi Chablis in a screw-top gallon jug. very handy for cooking!) For the fish, instead of the suggested haddock, I used a mixture of striper and bluefish that had been in the freezer for awhile. And even though the fish was a touch on the elderly side (though NOT freezer-burnt, thank goodness!) the resulting chowdah was FABULOUS!!!! Next time I make it, I plan to try using some dill instead of thyme, or maybe both, who knows? In any case, what a fab way to use up some of the fish Keith brings home in abundance, especially the bluefish. And maybe the occasional mackerel for added pizzazz...hmm...again, more possibilities!!!!

My new job seems to be going well, i.e. I am still enjoying it and not resenting having to spend 5 hours each day in the workplace not knitting, spinning, or dyeing. I am the part-time admin department "floater," which means I am always multi-tasking my little heart out. I handle the phones, inventory the stock-room and hardware, put together kits for the assemblers to build, do some general clerical stuff including copying and filing, and when I am ultra-efficient at the afore-mentioned tasks, I get to BUILD THINGS!!!! Yes, folks, I am having a blast learning to assemble simple electrical cables, which includes an array of exotic tools. Yesterday I worked with a pneumatic crimper. Whee!!!!

The company is owned by the fella who used to be my supervisor at UniStar Textiles, so when the opportunity came up, I wanted to grab it. The man is a good and just employer, plus I already knew most of the folks working for him. My two immediate supervisors are pleasant to work for, I can still take plenty of empty boxes home for shipping Mad Angel Creations merch, AND no one minds if I knit on my breaks. Oh, and did I mention that this place is a mere 5 minutes from my house? And the job is permanent, but with a part-time schedule of only 5 hours a day? Basically, what's not to like? It's steady, pleasant, and still leaves me time to run my business.

Speaking of the business, I think I'll be doing some spinning today, and perhaps sone dyeing in between rounds of laundry and figuring out what to make for dinner tonight. But I think I am going to start off by kicking hubbby out of bed and suggesting we go get breakfast. I hear a Belgian waffle screaming my name...


cindy said...

Paula.....the spider is fascinating!!! Your sweater looks're creating yarn and pattern envy :)Hope to see you tonight at Knittin'

su said...

There must be magic in your hands. I've never seen anyone get more knitting done! Love the sweater but your spinning sister scares me. su